Big options, big names (cont.)
Edgar Renteria, Tigers shortstop ($12 million option, $3 million buyout): He's played so poorly in Detroit, the new theory isn't that he hated Boston but that he hates the American League. The call: No way the Tigers pick up that option.
John Smoltz, Braves pitcher ($12 million option, no buyout): He's been a major bargain forever. Coming off a shoulder injury, that $12-million price tag probably doesn't look like such a bargain; but assuming he checks out, I think they pick it up. The call: The Braves bring back Smoltz.
Mike Cameron, Brewers outfielder ($10 million option, $750,000 buyout): After missing the first 25 games due to a suspension, then starting slow, he's played very well for the contending Brewers. A little veteran leadership doesn't hurt, either. The call: The Brewers pick it up.
John Lackey, Angels pitcher ($9 million option, $500,000 buyout): Lackey continues as another major Angels bargain. The only consideration is a new long-term deal. The call: The Angels pick up the option in advance of an extension.
Brad Penny, Dodgers pitcher ($9.25 million option, $2-million buyout): That $9.25-million figure isn't sky-high, but Penny's shoulder's been hurting most of this year, making it an extremely tough call. The call: The Dodgers deliberate but wind up picking it up, as veteran pitchers are hard to find.
Carl Crawford, Rays outfielder ($8.25 million option, $2.5 million buyout): A no-brainer, despite Crawford's recent finger injury. The call: The Rays pick it up.
Around the Majors
The Mets and Yankees suffered two of the most devastating defeats of their seasons Tuesday night. The Yankees fell 6 1/2 games behind the wild-card leading Red Sox, making the next two games at Yankee Stadium (and possibly the last two at this Yankee Stadium for these two rivals) must wins. Alex Rodriguez grounded into two more double plays, making it nine GIDPs in August after four the previous four months. Crazy. "Tonight I stunk,'' A-Rod said. "I screwed up anything that could be screwed up.'' A-Rod was booed on multiple occasions in a game he went 0-for 5 (including two strikeouts) and made a throwing error. The next nine-plus years should be interesting.
The Mets, who blew a seven-game lead to the Phillies in 17 games, blew a 7-0 lead in their 8-7 defeat at Philly. Now they will need to show the type of mental toughness they lacked last year.
Much-heralded Mets prospect Jon Niese will likely get the call Sept. 2 at Milwaukee, as Newsday and nybaseballdigest.com's Joe DeMayo reported first. Niese's performance may give the Mets an idea of the urgency to re-sign Oliver Perez. The Mets would like to keep Perez but know he'll get a big price as a free agent.
The injuries are piling up for the Red Sox, and they can't operate like they're in the playoffs yet, either, not with both the White Sox and Twins playing like they are. J.D. Drew's back injury severely hurts a lineup that was already hurt by the loss of Manny Ramirez. A person close to Drew described his new injury as a "tweak'' of the herniated disc at the L5 vertebra. Nonetheless, Drew had to go on the disabled list and the Red Sox appear to be favored to land the Braves' serviceable outfielder Mark Kotsay, who cleared waivers and was pulled from Tuesday night's game in Atlanta, a clue he may be going. The Phillies also appear interested.
Rookie Jed Lowrie looks pretty good at shortstop, though, for Boston. Better than Julio Lugo.
The Twins' did all right by getting Carlos Gomez in their deal with the Mets. But I bet they regret not taking one of Boston's offers that included Jon Lester and Lowrie. They again, they're probably relieved not to have quickly grabbed the Yankees' bid of Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera when it was on the table. Hughes is confounding Yankees people by still showing ill effects from his early-season ribcage injury.
The Twins made a nice move to re-acquire Everyday Eddie Guardado. And the Twins' call to claim Jarrod Washburn was gutsy. The Mariners must be kidding if they really thought the Twins were going to surrender young pitcher Kevin Slowey for the serviceable yet overpaid Washburn.
The Cardinals and Marlins don't look like they're going to make it now. But they've been great stories as long as they've lasted. The Rays are the Story of the Year, of course. But we shouldn't forget about the Twins, who seem to perform miracles more often than anyone. Take a bow, Twinkies.